My Dad was a lovely gentle private man. He went to live and work in East Africa when he and my mother first got married in 1950 and he had an extensive, varied and most enjoyable ex patriot life. Moving from East to West Africa, and then South, finally ending up in the Caribbean, where he spent 20 years or more in a very happy retirement. He was a very community minded man, and he engaged in several projects as a volunteer, one being treasurer of the local National Trust, and another engineering the building of a local police station.
At 87, he began to lose weight and feel very sick, so my mother decided to move back to England to receive treatment for Leukemia, which was finally diagnosed.
I was very fortunate to be able to visit him at home regularly and he received great care from the local hospital, having regular blood transfusions to help him. All this time he was living at home and being cared for by my very active mother who found his illness quite difficult to handle.
During my visits we used to sit in the sunshine in the garden. He had found some old slides of his working days in Tanzania and had them transformed into photos for us. He gradually became more ill, until one day the doctor decided that his disease had turned acute and he should go into hospital. I said to him that he didn’t need to go if he didn’t wish to, but he was quite clear that he wanted to go.
He died in hospital after a few days there as he decided he did not want any more treatment. I have two regrets; one that I never managed to find the opportunity discuss with him how he felt his life had been, ( I think his was a life well lived) and how he wanted to die, and secondly that I did not stay at the hospital to be with him when he died. My mum and dad were very fortunate, they were married for over 60 years.
I also consider myself very fortunate in that Mum is still alive and quite fit, and I have a second opportunity to make sure that I do what she would like, and I have the time to ask her about her wishes in her dying. I just hope that I can find the place and the words to do it, and to be with her at the end.